Top things to do in Mai Chau and the surrounding area
- on Feb 23, 2020       By: BN
The peaceful Mai Chau market town is located in the North-west of Vietnam, about 150 kilometres from Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital. Three hours of a beautiful road lead you to a small village. This place of the white Thai ethnic group is nestled in a superb rice valley surrounded by limestone mountains. Mai Chau is a destination acclaimed by travellers wishing to discover the pretty Vietnamese countryside, its rice fields as far as the eye can see and its small hamlets made up of traditional wooden houses on stilts and thatched roofs. Mai Chau is a great introduction to the discovery of the majestic mountainous region of Northern Vietnam or to simply make an invigorating country stopover full of beautiful surprises.
Top activities to do in Mai Chau
+ Hiking in the Mai Chau countryside. Mai Chau and its surroundings are particularly suitable for hiking. From a simple walk to a multi-day hike with homestays, there is something for everyone and for all levels. As a couple or with your family, let’s discover this superb rice valley surrounded by beautiful limestone mountains covered with vegetation. Hiking is an opportunity to observe the country life. Depending on the season, you can observe the farmers ploughing with a buffalo, transplanting or harvesting the rice.
+ Taking a bike ride. Just like walking, cycling allows you to discover the peaceful rural atmosphere of Mai Chau. The bike allows you to go to the beautiful but more remote valleys of Mai Hich and Ban Buoc or Buoc village.
+ Exploring the caves at a thousand steps or Chieu cave and Mo Luong cave, two of the main tourist attractions of Mai Chau. As its name suggests, the Chieu cave requires climbing over 1,200 steps to access it with the great reward of enjoying a superb view of the valley and being able to admire beautiful geological formations.
+ Discovering the local handicrafts and in particular the making of traditional textiles in silk or cotton. You can observe the women working with precision and dexterity on their old looms making fabrics, clothes, bags or carpets.
+ Visit the Pa Co ethnic market which is located about thirty kilometres North of Mai Chau on the road that leads to Moc Chau. This small market comes alive every Sunday when ethnic minorities from the region come here to trade. You can meet the Thai, Hmong and especially Muong ethnic groups that populate the region.
+ Sleeping with the locals. Taste the extraordinary Thai hospitality by staying in their magnificent traditional wooden house on stilts capped with thatch. A nice way to discover the Thai culture and to enjoy recipes straight out of the ethnic grimoire.
+ Attending a traditional white Thai ethnic dance performance and drink fermented rice alcohol. A great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and end a beautiful day in a friendly atmosphere.
The white Thai ethnic group in Mai Chau
The white Thai ethnic group is the main ethnic minority in Mai Chau valley. The white Thai arrived very early in Vietnam, from the beginning of the 11th century, came from Yunnan in China. They settled in the valley where they have cultivated rice for centuries as well as animal husbandry. The elegant women are distinguished by their traditional costume which consists of a long black skirt, sarong style, a short jacket fastened with silver buttons, a green silk belt and a silver chain on the hip. The traditional costume of the Thai woman gives her an attractive appearance, both slender and robust. The White Thai have their writing based on Sanskrit. They are very famous in popular dances such as: picking dance, rowers dance... Like the Vietnamese, they are influenced by Buddhism, Confucianism and by Taoism. White Thais are used to living in beautiful wooden houses on stilts.
Hoa Binh Lake
A few kilometres from Mai Chau is the Hoa Binh Lake, the largest water reservoir in Vietnam. A beautiful ecotourism destination where you can cycle, swim in waterfalls and/or kayak on its calm waters to discover this superb natural setting. You can also stay here with a local.
When to go?
The best times of the year to visit Mai Chau are between April and early June and from October to late November. During these months, the weather is sunny but not too hot and the rice fields are resplendent.
+ From December to March is winter, it can be cold, there is cold drizzle and there is no rice in the rice fields.
+ From June to September it can be very hot and there will be heavy showers.
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